As we begin or renew a commitment to daily reading of God’s Word, a few words of guidance may be in order. We might want to think of the following guidelines like concentric circles. In other words, one does not leave reverence behind as one moves into reading, reflecting, researching, and so on.
REVERENCE: The words of Psalm 46:10 may be in order as we set out — “Be still and know that I am God.” Our Bible reading should have a personal focus and purpose. We do not seek to engage in a mindless ritual or mere intellectual endeavor but to meet with, commune with, and be changed in relationship to the One, True, Living God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So, we come with this purpose, we come with humility and openness, even as we trust that God will clarify this purpose and bring about this kind of heart attitude through reading God’s Word!
READ: This is simple, but we need to directly read the written Word of God. Determine the passage you will be reading. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you focus. Read slowly and deliberately, asking for attentiveness and the ability to hear God’s voice.
REFLECT: We want to continue the sense of active attentiveness to God’s presence and voice and abandonment to whatever God wants to reveal and do through His Word. We ask the Holy Spirit to give us eyes to accurately answer the question: WHAT does the Word SAY (Observation)? As you reflect, the six classic “interrogation” words will be helpful: Who? What? When? Where? How? Why?
RESEARCH: We are not content simply to know what the written Word of God says. We need to know what it meant to those who first received the Word. We ask the Holy Spirit to give us minds to accurately answer the question: What does the Word MEAN (Interpretation)? We need to know what evidence is available that is relevant for understanding the meaning of the Word of God. Some evidence should be discovered through examining the literary context of the passage, etc. Other evidence may be discovered as we make use of secondary resources such as commentaries and Bible dictionaries.
RESPOND: We do not want to short-circuit the life-change role of the written Word of God in our lives. We ask the Holy Spirit to make plain the answer to this question: HOW does the Word APPLY? (Application). We want to be like the Bereans described in the NT book of Acts: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men” (Acts 17:11-12 NIV).
RECORD: Those who take time to even in the most brief of ways find a way to preserve insights from their study will find it a reward.